Niagara Gazette

Courts

February 6, 2014

Three charges dropped against Steve Richards

Niagara Gazette — BUFFALO — State prosecutors have dropped some charges and made changes to the indictment in the public corruption case against Town of Niagara Supervisor Steven Richards.

Assistant Attorney General Diane LaValle told State Supreme Court Justice Christopher Burns during a hearing Wednesday that her office was voluntarily withdrawing three charges from the 28-count indictment against Richards.

“We concede the three counts are past the statute of limitations,” LaValle told the judge.

She also said that Richards’ defense team had agreed to allow her office to “amend” the indictment “to specify (that Richards’ crimes) took place in the Town of Niagara and County of Niagara.”

Defense attorney Rodney Personius had previously suggested that the indictment against his client needed to be dismissed because it failed to indicate where in New York state Richards’ crimes occurred.

But that is where the agreements between the defense and prosecutors stopped. 

Personius also asked Burns to dismiss 14 more charges in the indictment, arguing that some of them were also past the statute of limitations and that other claims failed to meet the legal definitions of a crime.

The 18-year town supervisor has entered not guilty pleas to four felony counts and 24 misdemeanor charges contained in the indictment. They include one count of defrauding the government, two counts of fourth-degree grand larceny, one count of fourth-degree criminal possession of stolen property, 11 counts of petit larceny and 13 counts of official misconduct.

The indictment charges that, beginning in 2001, Richards engaged in a scheme to steal goods and use town resources for his own personal benefit. Among the claims are allegations that he directed town employees to pick up and deliver property to his personal business, clean a clogged drain at his personal business, and connect a storm drain, at a residential rental property he owns, to a state storm water line.

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